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The Habs have already made one move of significance leading up to next week’s trade deadline.  Who might be the next to go?  Our writers offer up their predictions.

Brian La Rose: I’m going to go with a name that isn’t necessarily on the trade radar, Jesse Ylonen.  I think he’s in a tough spot with Montreal where he’s not a fit on the fourth line and doesn’t have the trust of the coaching staff to be moved up in the lineup.  That’s just not an ideal spot for either side.

Ylonen is arbitration-eligible this summer and while his contract won’t be huge, he has enough of a track record that a figure of a little over a million through an arbitration hearing isn’t unrealistic.  Are the Habs prepared to give him that raise next season?  If not, he’s a non-tender risk.

If Ylonen is a non-tender risk (and I think he is for the reason above), then it would make sense to move him now.  This is the time of year when rebuilding teams will take a flyer on a player who doesn’t necessarily fit where they are now but might fit in better elsewhere.  Basically, what the Canadiens tried to do with Denis Gurianov last season.

Would Ylonen’s trade value be high?  Not at all.  But is there a swap of change-of-scenery players around the same age out there?  I think there is.  And if it’s likelier than not that Ylonen won’t be back next season, there’s not much risk in making a swap like this with the hope that whoever they get is a better fit on the roster.

Kevin Leveille: Controversial take: I think the Habs don’t make a trade between now and the trade deadline other than perhaps acquiring help for the Rocket.

Follow along: will the next Hab to be traded be Tanner Pearson, Josh Anderson, Joel Armia, Jake Allen, or maybe even a young defender? So many options, so little return.

My belief is that Armia and Christian Dvorak will both get moved at next season’s deadline because there is no way they are worth anything now and while that still might be the case at next season’s deadline, a decent season from one of the two in 24-25 could maybe bring back the value of a second-rounder. So, Hughes likely holds off until then, just in case. I think teams will kick tires on Anderson, but the league will be trying to buy low and that just makes no sense whatsoever for the Habs, no matter what the advanced stats guru section of the fan base believes. In the case of young defenders, I think Hughes wants to package for a big prize, so I think we’ll hear rumblings and rumours that end up being the base for something this summer.

That leaves Pearson and Allen. Pearson is on an expiring contract but appears to be on an expiring career too. How much a team will be willing to cough up to have a proven winner as depth in case of injuries in the playoffs? Likely not much, and it’s not like the Habs don’t already hold a ton of draft capital. I see GM Kent Hughes setting a price and no team matching it and that’s the most likely scenario for Allen also.

However, Allen does pose the biggest threat to my claim, and here’s why. The goaltending market is never one that yields good returns. However, the current market is a bit unusual and could be incredibly affected by the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are not in on Allen, but their recent play might force their hand to make a big play on one of Jacob Markstrom or Juuse Saros. If they don’t, then I don’t think a team matches the price set by Hughes. But if they do, the market for goaltenders and for other teams in need to react might be hotter than ever, and at that point, Hughes would be crazy to not take what he can and run. Potential partners include the Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, and Edmonton Oilers. But I think it only happens if New Jersey takes their swing first. Otherwise, he too ends up moving in the summer.

So there you have it, no trade and a likely disappointed and frustrated fan base when it happens/doesn’t happen.

Peter Longo: I think the most important trade to make is a defenceman. Hughes has already said he’s bringing in Lane Hutson after his season in the NCAA is over, so you wouldn’t do that unless you intend to play him. In addition, they will have David Reinbacher, Justin Barron, and Logan Mailloux pushing for spots next season so with seven defencemen already on the roster – one or two players will have to go.

Along these lines, I think we will see Mike Matheson and Jordan Harris get traded. Matheson is having a career year offensively so his trade value has never been higher for teams looking for offensive production from the back-end. For the Habs despite his offensive contributions, they are a better team without him due to his defensive lapses that have cost the team too many games (most recently in New Jersey). While they will not be able to replace his power play contributions to the same degree, all other aspects of his game are easily replaced or improved upon. Distributing his minutes and power play time to other young defencemen would be great development opportunities.

For Harris, while he’s still young, has good mobility and is positionally sound, he plays a weak, timid game and is regularly out-muscled for the puck. His offensive contributions have been limited. I think we have seen Harris develop to his potential (third pairing) which is really good for a third-round pick. But for the Habs with higher ceiling prospects in the pipeline, Harris is occupying a valuable roster spot.

It may be tougher to trade Matheson mid-season due to his contract, but opening up a roster spot and clearing out salary cap hits for both Matheson and Harris would be a step in the right direction.

Paul MacLeod: I hope that the answer to this question is Armia. I am hoping that the re-engaged Armia with his big body, puck control, penalty killing, decent speed, and fantastic shot, when he occasionally uses it, will delude some rival GM into thinking that he is the answer for his team’s 3rd/4th line depth issue. Realistically though, I think that the next Hab traded will be Allen as the three-headed monster in goal is finally dispatched.

Oren Weizman: Armia – Many will rue the day when Armia’s day on waivers came and went leaving the mercurial Finn unclaimed. Let us not forget his solid performance in the Habs’ unlikely Stanley Cup final run a few years back. Armia could find himself re-invigorated by joining a playoff-bound team ready to make a deep run, his mixture of grit, streaky scoring touch, and penalty kill smarts would be a great fit for a team like the Bolts.

Dave Woodward: I am not convinced that Hughes will be all that active at the trade deadline.  However, if the Canadiens do not intend to sign Pearson (and there is no reason to do so in this scribbler’s view), Pearson should be moved at the deadline.  Pearson is on an expiring contract and he is a big body who could provide some depth up front for a team looking to go on a deep playoff run.  Pearson’s pedestrian production this year will most certainly limit any potential return.  Nonetheless, it would be better to get something rather than have him in the lineup for the meaningless remaining games of the season.

The return?  If it was a deal for Pearson alone, I would expect no more than a late-round pick or a B-level prospect that had reached a dead end with their organization.  Alternatively, a solid AHL player (that might help Laval in its playoff push) would add some value as the younger players on the Rocket would certainly benefit from a deep playoff run.  Whatever return is received, a Pearson trade is unlikely to materially move the needle for the Habs going forward.

Is Pearson the only player to be moved?   That depends on the market but a single trade involving Pearson would not surprise me.  Kent Hughes is a patient GM.  Apart from Pearson, there is no urgency to make a deal.  Armia, Allen, and David Savard have another year on their contracts and the cap will complicate any trade for them (not to mention the value for Allen is probably at a low point and Armia’s habit of disappearing for long stretches renders his cap hit prohibitive).  Nobody would take the Josh Anderson and Brendan Gallagher contracts.

There are rumours about moving Harris but, as a young defenceman with no playoff experience, he is unlikely to be targeted by buyers at the deadline.  While I expect Harris to be one of the odd defenceman out given the Canadiens’ depth on the left side, it would be more likely to see him moved at the draft or in the summer when teams have a better handle on their cap situation and are building or tweaking their lineup for the ensuing season.

I am expecting a quiet trade deadline and a busy summer for Hughes and the Canadiens.